Meta May Be Forced To Remove Facebook, Instagram From EU

Meta Platforms reiterated its warning that it may have to pull its popular Facebook and Instagram services from the European Union if a new transatlantic data transfer pact doesn’t materialize.

Meta could face a ban on its practice of exporting user data to the U.S. for which it is currently under scrutiny by Ireland’s data protection watchdog. The issue surrounds EU-U.S. data transfers that take place under standard contractual clauses (SCCs).

The EU and U.S. in March broke a deadlock to reach a tentative deal on a new data-transfer pact after a previous accord was struck down by the bloc’s top court over concerns U.S. agencies could snoop on the information without adequate privacy safeguards.

Negotiations on a new pact won’t likely conclude before next year, by which time the Irish watchdog may have already issued its ban.

“If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted and we are unable to continue to rely on SCCs or rely upon other alternative means of data transfers from the EU to the US, we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe,” Meta said in a U.S. regulatory filing.

This “would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations,” it added.

The unanswered questions over data transfers stem from a 2020 ruling by the EU’s highest court that ended the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement over long standing fears that it exposed EU citizens to illegal surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Up until now, SCCs have acted as a workaround to the EU’s toppling of the Privacy Shield but it appears that era is coming to an end.

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